Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

cover of Then She Was Gone by Lisa JewellAnother excellent suspense from an author who has a knack for storytelling.  Jewell has a way of examining human nature from various angles and her stories are both entertaining and insightful.  It is easy to connect with her characters and their predicaments.

In Then She Was Gone, fifteen year-old Ellie Mack vanishes on her way to the library one spring day, leaving behind a distraught family, especially her mother Laurel who refuses to believe the police’s theory that she ran away.  A decade later, Ellie’s bones are found and Laurel attempts to move on despite the lingering mystery surrounding her daughter’s disappearance.  She meets Floyd, a charming man with a lovely daughter who eerily resembles her missing Ellie. And what of Ellie’s old math tutor, Noelle, an unexpected link between Laurel and Floyd, who has also disappeared mysteriously?

This multi-layered story unfolds in several parts told by Laurel, Noelle and Floyd.  Ellie delivers the epilogue and prologue. The text is not graphic though the plot is at times, gut-wrenching, the likes of which occasionally pop up in our headlines.  Most readers will be able to surmise Ellie’s fate to some extent but the mystery unravels slowly and offers up the details in a satisfying conclusion revealing each person’s role in her disappearance. 

Jewell is a British author and this story is set in England.  Readers unfamiliar with the British vernacular may be put off a bit, so fair warning.  If a British accent soothes your soul, I highly recommend the audio version read by Helen Duff who does a superb job juggling voices.  She also reads Jewell’s I Found You (highly recommended) and Before I Met You.  If you enjoy Liane Moriarty’s writing, Lisa Jewell is an excellent readalike.  She has authored 17 books to date and her most recent release is Watching You.